Show me your boob… sweat: Sports Bra Chafing and Marathon Running.

Today we’re talking about chafing – specifically sports bra chafing. Here’s some info on how to prevent chafing and the best sports bras to wear. But every body and set of boobs are different so please comment with your advice!

vegas loves sports bras (800x450)

I received this email from a reader/runner last week and feel her pain – literally.

I need some help from you and your runner friends.  I don’t have a large chest (34 B or C depending on bra) but I suffer from chaffing whenever I run more than 10 miles.  I’ve ran my whole life but have only been doing marathons for the past two years.  I thought the chaffing under my bra was just normal, but I can’t believe that everyone suffers from this.  Let me know if you have any advice.  Everything I search talks about bounce control and are more suited for girls with a bigger chest, and I just need advice to avoid chaffing!
I put on Vaseline before I run to try and help, but in the summer running for 2-4 hours the Vaseline doesn’t cut it.  I just need a good bra.

I get chafing in the summer when I’m doing long runs of over 10 miles. It is the worst! In addition to it hurting, the mark under your breast area is not attractive. I’ve heard it called a “Running Tattoo” and that is accurate during the monster months of marathon training. Boo.

sports bra giveaway (800x800)

So, here are some tips on preventing and helping sports bra chafing…

The Best Sports Bras for Marathon Runners:

1. I love Moving Comfort’s line of sports bras, but they are very different so you have to find the one for YOU. MC has sent me a lot of their gear over the years so I feel like I know what works for me and ‘my girls’ from their line.

I love this Urban X over bra for long runs. I like their Vixen bra too, but I have small boobs so this works for me. If you’re hauling them DD you need more support. Luckily, they are a pretty good company for that. I’ve also heard great things about Lulu’s TataTamer, but I haven’t tried it.

2. Because quality sports bras are expensive I wear lower cost ones for shorter runs and ‘save’ the $$ ones for long sessions.

When I wear the Target or Champion sports bras I double up to prevent bounce. I have a lot of these in my drawer and wear two at time (even with small boobs, I hate bounce).


The ‘pull-over’ type bras are great, but for super long runs it’s nice to have an adjustable band. My favorite ones for over 10 milers are ones with a clasp back. A reader who works at a running store noted that sizing is key AND the good thing about adjustable backs is you can make it tighter as it gets older/loose.

3. Note: When your Google “Sports Bra for Marathon Runners” the Champion Marathon Sports Bra comes up. I have tried that bra and do NOT like it for running. (Don’t buy it just because of the name.)

But, I do dig Champion gear and prefer their Show Off Sports Bra. It has some nice support and a breathable window.

champion sports bra giveaway (800x450)

I have also tried Asics, New Balance, Adidas, Nike and probably more brands and those are the ones that work for my boobs aka “Lolas”.

boob jail

How to prevent chafing:

1. Get a GOOD sports bra. The less bounce the less your skin will be rubbing.

The band is right around your rib cage, so you need to breathe (a requirement of running) but make sure you are wearing the right size for your chest and cups.

breaking bra

2. Lube up with Vaseline or Body Glide. Slather it on before your start running – don’t wait until the burning starts.

Consider re-applying if possible mid-run. I have ran in races where the First Aid tents along the course hold out Vaseline for runners to grab and apply on the course.

How to deal with sports bra chafing:

1. Explain to everyone at the pool that you are training for a race… distract them from the horror that is your scabbed chest with tales of your long runs to impress.

Warning: Spray tan sticks to chafed skin and makes your cut look like a brown burn. I know, I’ve done it.

2. Put Neosporin or diaper crème on it. Keep it clean and dry.

Just the tip: If you want a nickname for your boobs BuzzFeed will help.

Let’s talk!

What is your favorite sports bra for high impact and super sweaty runs?

How do you prevent chafing?

How do heal with chafing?


  1. Julie says

    I’ve actually put KT tape on the area just to cover it before a long run. The tape sticks even if you get really sweaty! Also, I had to use coconut oil once in an emergency…it worked pretty well too.

  2. says

    Hi, chiming in here because I work at a running store and fitting sports bras is one of the main things I do under my job description. The biggest thing you need from a sports bra is one that fits well in the band. You want the band to be SNUG because that’s where all the support comes from. (This is also why you don’t need the straps to be super tight.) You should be able to slip two fingers under the band on either side of your rib cage but no more. As the bra stretches out, if the band gets bigger and looser, that’s where most chafing comes from, which is why bras with clasps are nice–you can adjust them as the elastic stretches out. A little Body Glide or a similar product will help with chafing hot spots, but making sure your sports bra fits well is the big key to making sure you don’t get chafed!

  3. says

    The key for me is a good fitting sports bra. I love moving comfort and I’ve found them on sale at many times which helps because they are a bit pricey. I actually found one at TJMaxx over the weekend for 10 bucks but they didn’t have my size! Boo. The point is, if you look around you can sometimes find them on sale but don’t sacrifice because a good sports bra makes all the difference. I also use body glide in the areas that I have had chafing in the past just as a back up. I’ve run over 5 hours on several occasions and no chafing.

  4. says

    If I get chafing (which is usually if I forget to put on Body Glide), I stick a Tegaderm bandage over it. This helps it heal faster and it protects the spot from being further chafed during my next run. It stays pretty well when sweating, but will need to be changed after a run.

  5. says

    I’ve had chafing under the strap…body glide works pretty well in that spot. I like the Champion sports bras too, but mine have wide straps and a buckle in the back…they’re a little more pricey than the Target ones. I’ve gotten mine at Kohls.

  6. says

    I use body glide and a good sports bra. If I end up with chafing I use aquafor at night and after a shower and it heals in no time!

  7. says

    Chafing is the worst! Especially when you don’t realize it until you’re in the shower. Ouch!
    I found some great sports bras at Marshall’s for super cheap but I also love Moving Comfort.

  8. says

    I’m lucky when it comes to running, because my flat chest doesnt give me any trouble at all. My THIGHS however, give me lots of chafing trouble. And body glide is my best friend.

    I LOVE the Target bras. They are super cheap, really cute, and last me a long time!

  9. says

    Fit is most important. Even f it’s ugly ( Enell Sports Bra). I work at a run specialty store and one thing that is drilled into us is never let a sports bra celebrate a birthday. Most sports bras last 1 year. They break down from sweat and bacteria. Wash in a lingerie bag and air dry. Or tumble dry on low with no fabric softeners. After learning of the whole birthday thing, I sadly threw away by 10 year old fave bra from college. :( It was time…..

    I wear cheaper ones from Target for short runs and I don’t need much support anyway ( small B’s), but use the $$ ones for long runs and always use Body Glide or Sport Wax under the band. I like Nike Pro Classic, New Balance Shapely Shaper and Adidas Running Supernova Racer Bra. The first 2 have removable shaper cups. I appreciate a tiny bit of shape and I have an issue with 24/7 “headlights”. Nobody needs to see those.

  10. says

    Target makes more supportive C9 sports bras with padding. Those are the ones I wear, but they probably chafe on long runs (I don’t do long runs). I love the VS Sport ones from Victoria’s Secret for days when I need extra support.

  11. Cheryl says

    I use A&D ointment to prevent chafing since I’m a huge sweater! Creates a waterproof barrier. If it looks I chafed (which happens when I’m too lazy or wear my old bra) I apply before the shower and that helps the sting! One product – multiple uses!

  12. christi says

    True confession =) I have sports bras from Nike, Adidas, Under Armor (Love that PINK one!) and Champion but my all time favorites are from Old Navy – weird I know. I am a 38D – DD depending on the bra so it’s important to keep everyone locked down! The Old Navy sports bras have a really wide band. Some of the sports bras I have tried feel like the coverage under the arms comes up too high but these are just right for me. It’s important to keep trying until you find the right one for you =) For long runs I have used body glide but have a friend who swears by Gold Bond powder. She says you can use it before to prevent or to help heal chafing after the fact.

  13. says

    Training for my first half has many lessons. Chafing has been one over the past month, any runs longer than 8 miles.

    Am experimenting with new sports bras… the old are just torture on long runs (fine for short). Hit my go to Target first and the Champion med supports are great for my 36Bs… with a nice dose of Aquaphor before heading out.
    Haha with each long run, especially on these crazy humid days, discovering new chafing locations. That shower burn is a surprise I can live without!
    Aquaphor is my choice right now because read a couple posts from distance runners saying that it holds out better and doesn’t stain (and it was on the shelf of the local drug store). I have no idea if that’s true… So far so good.. where I use it :).

  14. Elaine says

    Moving Comfort Juno is my favorite for running. I love Champion for around the house or yoga. The pullovers aren’t enough for running but are super comfy!
    A little baby powder where needed after the shower is great!

  15. says

    Body Glide is my friend. It probably doesn’t help that I wear Barely There bras (, which are not really sports bras. But they otherwise work for me, and I really don’t like the non-padded “normal” sports bra. And for some reason, I HATE wearing sports bras with clasps (even MC); they feel too much like a regular bra, and I want to separate running from normal life :-)

  16. says

    If I get chafing from a sports bra its usually at the top of the bra. I get bad chafing when I wear a heart rate monitor- like seriously painful and takes forever to heal. I need to always remember to put body glide or vaseline on before I wear it.

  17. says

    I used to hate the fact that I have basically no boobs, but ever since I have started running, I can see now how blessed I am. I suppose there is ups and downs to every situation.
    Much of my love goes out to you ladies!
    The pain is real!

  18. Danielle says

    I LOVE Zensah seamless sports bras! If those are all stinky, I will take a generic (adidas/reebok/under armour etc) bra with seams and just turn it inside out. Otherwise I end up with a long under boob “gash”!

  19. says

    I am a Moving Comfort addict! At a 34D (down from a 36DD), my lady lumps need some extra TLC. I don’t dig the underwire during my runs, though. Juno is my favorite for race day, and I cycle through Jubralee, Endurance Racer, and Fiona. I also have Rebound Racer, but it’s better for kickboxing. Anything ‘lower impact’ is a yoga/sleep/lounging only situation.

    • Jenna says

      I love Moving Comfort Juno too! Also a 36DD, I was excited to find a sports bra that didn’t require me to double up. I am training for my first half marathon. I started to get chafing under the clasp in the back, but I though it was because the bra was getting old. I ordered 2 new Juno’s and ended up with WORSE chafing to the point where I found blood on my sports bra after only a 3 mile run! I haven’t tried anything as far as BodyGlide or Aquaphor, but I think KT Tape or Tegaderm might be my only solution at this point since I have a sore on my back, and an 11 mile run today!

  20. says

    Chafing is NO fun! I’ve been lucky (knock on wood!) that I’ve only had a few run-ins with the chafing monster and they’ve mostly been caused by my arm or tank top rubbing up against my skin (note to self not to wear that tank top on a long run again!) OR by wearing short shorts for a longer run…girl got me some thighs. 😉

  21. says

    I get chafing horribly under my arms. Does anyone have suggestions for this? I still think it’s from my sports bra, but besides the glide, I’m not sure what to do about it. I can barely put deodorant on this week because it hurts so badly!

  22. Sherilyn says

    I love the Moving Comfort Maia bra! I have a large chest with a small frame (34G) and used to wear Enell, which was so much fabric. The Maia bra fits like a regular bra but is incredibly supportive. I’ve never had an issue with chafing or bouncing. It does have an underwire which some people don’t like, but I find that that helps keep everything supported.

    • Kim Johnson says

      Thank you so much Sherilyn for posting this-I wear a 36G and so far none of the “big busted posts” have applied to me! Been active & running for years but this year the Body Glide and CWX bra haven’t been cutting it w/regard to chafing. Many 1/2 marathons under my belt and training for a full has been painful from a chafing perspective . I’m going to research the Maia right now!!! Thanks again!!!

  23. says

    I just wanted to say thanks to you and all the people who commented. I just had an incident last week and the scars to prove it #nobueno I really appreciate the info.

  24. says

    I have a small ribcage, but larger cup size (30 DD) and I love my moving comfort bras, specifically the rebound racer. I also have a few tata tamer bras, they also are great but the price tag hurts, so I’ll only buy them on clearance. I generally don’t have to use any lube, but I live in a pretty dry environment, and I think that makes a big difference, humidity is a chafing nightmare!

  25. says

    My two favorites are Nike (basically anything, but mostly the pro) and Champion. The champion bras that I get come from a sporting goods store and are in the $60 range so prob not the same ones from Target. They have the clasp. I have DD and usually shoot for bras that say “high support.” Since switching to the higher end selection, I haven’t had any problem with chafing or bouncing! Its glorious when you finally achieve it! (And I live in Mississippi so I run in 98 degree and 90% humidity #yolo)

  26. says

    I discovered Mission Anti Chafe cream and I’ve had ZERO chafing since!!!!! Body Glide was never 100% for me.

    As for my favorite bra….Moving Comfort “Maia” because I have 34Ds and they need all the support they can get. They have underwire so that was a big issue for my chafing but once I found that Mission Anti Chafe I never had it again. Also it works great for thigh “chub rub”. I never wore shorts until I discovered this stuff because of the terrible chafing between my thighs. I use it when I wear skirts to work on a humid day too. =)

    • Lena says

      Thanks for the Mission Cream suggestion, no more chaffing! Have now run a marathon with it, and mediocre bra and survived without a scratch!

  27. Rob Runs says

    Oh, the bra chafing! I have scars under and between my boobs, it’s suuuuuper sexy! I like my Moving Comfort Maia and Juno, though truth be told depending on that time of the month even my favorite bras fit poorly and can be absolute torture. Racer backs tend to bother my shoulders so I like a “regular” bra that’s pretty adjustable and has clasps. If I remember I slather some Vaseline around the band-area before I head out, but I keep small travel sized tubes of Body Glide in my Camel Bak and car in case I’m too tired at 5AM to remember to lube up before I leave the house.

  28. Ashley S says

    So much good info! I’ve never had chaffing in the boobage area. But I’m long overdue on investing in a quality jog bra! Thanks for the tips!

  29. says

    I use Skin Strong cream to avoid chaffing and it works like a charm! I’ve used it for marathons, half marathons, and long training runs and I almost never have chaffing issues! It’s a cream and you just rub it in wherever needed! for sports bra areas I usually do the under-boob area and beneath my armpits and it is seriously the best stuff I’ve ever used!

  30. Audrey says

    I chafe BAD, like really bad, in multiple places. So far the best sports bra I’ve found is the Strappy from Oiselle. Minimal chafing!! Also, I’ve had some good luck with putting coconut oil (I whipped some up with my mixer then put it in a jar to store) or Aquafor on the chafed places after a long run (and after an extremely painful shower! I’m surprised you didn’t say anything about that Monica!) The other thing that I found that works well is turning the bra inside out (specifically Nike ones), I said this to a guy sales person once and he said it was the best tip he has heard!

  31. says

    I love this post! I’m on the verge of purchasing a $$ sports bra for my long runs. I haven’t experienced chafing yet, but I know it’s coming soon. I’m also on the cusp of purchasing Body Glide since I’ve bought some running shorts. Good to know Aquaphor helps – I have a tub of it for my daughter.

  32. says

    Great post! For me and mah girls Beyoncé and Solange (HA HA!), it’s Shock Absorber Run bra, always. I’ve got like five of them, they’re great for those of us in the DD+ cup category.

    I don’t get chafing from the bra, but the chest strap for my Garmin? It. Eats. My. Flesh. It’s horrible. Body Glide and the likes doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes I tape it, sometimes I just grin and bear it.

    • says

      Love your boob names :)
      I think Vaseline is better than glide because you can really slather it on, but it might break the Garmin strap if there are sensors near it.

    • Rhonda says

      I read on about this a while back. You put a waterproof bandaid over the sensor part of the chest strap, and voila, no more chafing from the little booger. It lasts a while, too before you have to change the bandaid out.

  33. SamanthaK says

    Thanks so much for posting this and also for all the suggestions from you and everyone else. I needed this–excellent timing! I’ll defiantly be trying out some of the suggested sports bras.

    Are there any that are better for wicking away sweat?

    Also–forgive my ignorance, but what part of the store does one find Body Glide?? Either the store I checked for it in didn’t have it, or it was in a very random place.

  34. Rachel says

    Shock Absorber Ultimate Run is the best in the UK. I don’t know if you have them in the USA. They are quite pricey, but worth it!

  35. says

    YES! Chaffing is the WORST! I have teeny boobs so I don’t usually have that much trouble with chaffing due to bouncing but I always get a rub under my arms where they swing past the sports bra. I also usually get a spot in the middle of my sternum, which is sad, because this means that the part of my chest that sticks out the most is my breastbone. #RunnerProblems.

    I have helped alleviate both of these spots with lots and lots of Body Glide. I also look for lower cut sports bras since lord knows I don’t need the support and the seams on the top front and sides were what caused the issues in the first place.

    I agree on the Moving Comfort bras, I love some of them but there is a wide range so it’s different for everyone. I wonder if it might be helpful too for some of the more chesty runners to wear a soft MC bra under a more supportive regular bra, the soft fabric on the MC might help the chaffing situation. Just a thought, I can’t really test it out though since I’m horizontally challenged on my upper half. Good luck to all ladies dealing with the chaffe!

  36. Kate Lewis says

    I swear by moving comfort Juno and maya. I wear a 34DD so I need major support. My only complaint about the Juno is that the material holds the odor I have tried everything and it stays stinky (really bad!). But the maya doesn’t hold stink but it isn’t as comfy for long runs in the double digits. For chaffing I found something called Run Guard. It is like body glide but about a third of the price and more natural ingredients . Haven’t chaffed when using it!

  37. Pamela says

    The Under Armor protege bra has gotten me through 7 half marathons, 1 full, and a triathlon. I’ve never had a chafing issue. I swear by it!

  38. Kathy says

    Good advice! I haven’t had much trouble with chafing (just around the waistband of running pants during a marathon once) but it buuurrns. I forgot to mention the nipple chafe to a new male client once when he headed out for his first long run….he was surprised I didn’t hear his high pitched screaming in the shower across the Club…oopsie, my bad.

    Also, my boobs? Boulder and Scully

  39. sara says

    I swear by Athleta glory bras. Back clasp, wide straps, no bounce. Great value for money and wash well and wear well over time. Also love the free shipping and returns.

  40. Jenny says

    I like Vaseline or Aquaphor over the Body Glide for that particular chafe, because it stays on better. As for the bra, I like MC’s Rebound Racer, because of the support and because it’s a racerback that’s still adjustable over the shoulder and across the back.

  41. says

    Completely unrelated but I saw a comment about it. What do you wash your workout gear with? I decided this weekend that I just don’t think my detergent is cutting! It still smells after I wash them.

  42. Andrea says

    Had this in the past on the ribcage in front – and I agree with Monica and really slather on that Vaseline pre-run!! Running my first marathon in Nov., and plan on packing one of those little tubes of Vaseline that are actually meant for your lips in my spibelt to squirt on mid race :) And yes I’ve used it other places… someone mentioned butt cheeks lol

    And someone asked about washing workout gear. I always add a little bit of ammonia to my washes (only loads that don’t have bleach – can’t mix those two). Works great as I have an HE washer and running clothes can get musty!

  43. Lisa says

    I too “was” on the same quest…find a sports bra that doesn’t rip me open. I actually found two that I love and actually prefer the wacoal one now since it controls my “side boob”. I am a distance runner size 32DDD so believe me finding a sports bra has been a QUEST. The other one I really like is Panache due to the fact that you can make it a racerback. However, this too does chaff so I am loving the wacoal one.

  44. Kim Johnson says

    Lisa I actually just ordered this bra today as I am a Wacoal girl and wear theirs for everyday use-same price too! I am super excited to get it tomorrow (zappos is always super quick!) now too! Thank you so much for sharing!

  45. says

    Hi girl, I am a normal chested girl (34 B/C) and I have never experienced chafing in my life. I run marathons and ultra marathons. And I think it’s because I got lucky with my bra. Not a cute as all the pretty Nike ones, but never had problem with bounce or wounds of any kind. The brand is called Shock Absorber and your boobs literally go to boob jail (no movement at all!). Here is a link to the their home page. I guess the brand is british (didn’t know).

  46. Wendy Cowan says

    So, let me get this straight, mostly.
    The chafing that I get probably isn’t going to be resolved by changing bras?
    I’m a 38DD and usually wear a Moving Comfort Juno bra when running.
    My 12 miler this weekend left me completely surrounded w/ sores even though I slathered up w/ Glide before I left and applied Vasaline half way through.
    Now where to go? I was hoping it was the bra and that I needed a softer banded bra.
    Anyone have any suggestions?

    • says

      I also swear by moving comfort’s bras (D cup here). Vaseline and body glide don’t quite cut it for my chafing though. I use diaper cream to prevent chafing. It’s designed to seal out moisture so I find that if I apply it pre-run it works really well.

  47. Kim Johnson says

    I have an update to this thread. Still wearing a 36G, just completed the Chicago Marathon yesterday (10/12/14) and no chafing!!! Though lots of people still claim the right fitting/size bra is the key, in my opinion if they are not larger chested it’s truly impossible for them to understand. They will think the understand & that’s okay. KT tape is still the answer!!! The precut strips work best as it’s easier to use, very adhesive and when u r learning to use it u may ruin more than intended. I used to chafe so badly that it looked like something out of a horror movie! I had to snap a pic (yes partially covered) to send my mom & show her. Changed bra brands & until this thread never tried KT tape. The person who recommended it is my angel! Thanks again!!!

  48. Jamie says

    I am a 36DD, and am now up to 8 mile runs. I started running in Moving Comfort and Lululemon, but now wear CW-X Xtempo sport. It’s a ton of hook and eyes, but all in the front. I don’t move, have no bounce, and have never had chafing. Of course, it isn’t very fashionable, a squashed uni-boob if you will. But I would much rather be comfortable! I also have a Lucy brand, Girls’ Best Friend that I like and a Moving Comfort that I still wear on shorter runs. Training for a half now, so I stocked up on the CW-X when they were on Zulily recently.

  49. Amber says

    I LOVE the Moving Comfort Fiona bra. I am only a 34B, but I am tall and need to be able to adjust shoulders and back. This bra does both. I only wish that it came in racerback too! I just ordered the Moving Comfort Vero II A/B and I am hoping I love it just as much.
    BTW, biggest pet peeve ever – why does it seem like almost all bras made for smaller boobed women have padding?? I hate padding. I couldn’t care less whether or not I look well endowed when I am out for a run. Plus, the padding soaks up all the sweat.

  50. Tahleen says

    I love my Moving Comfort Phoebe bras, but they are now discontinued! Does anyone know which one in their line is close to that one? I need a replacement–it’s the only bra I’ve used that doesn’t chafe at all.

    I have the TaTa Tamers too, but I found they have started chafing on me–boo.

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  52. sportsbrachick says

    There is no sports bra no matter how good it is that can stay moisture free when you are working ten hours a day on a hot humid day. Many have the option of removing it after a workout, but when you are forced to wear it all day it doesn’t take long before you need to replace it. It can be washed all the time, but after a while when your sports bra is soaked with sweat all day it doesn’t take long before they begin to have an odor. It may smell clean and just add a little moisture and it is starting to smell like you have been in it all day. That’s when you know your sports bra has had it even if the support properties are still in it.
    When my sports bras are like that they really only get downgraded to ones to wear at home when your the only one smelling it otherwise I am always buying sports bras.
    They’re great and love wearing them and really that’s the only drawback to them that I find.

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